LeBron James and Anthony Davis had their moments where they looked really good as the Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. James when he closed out the game with a personal 7-0 run, and Davis when he scored 17 points effortlessly in the first quarter. Neither looked 100% of their full selves on defense, but for two players in their first game back, their play was a promising enough start.
And in even better news for those hoping the Lakers can be ready to defend their title with a lengthy postseason run, both stars said after the game that they feel good, too.
“I felt great. It felt good to be back out there. Let the groin rest for a game. It felt good the entire time. It felt good after the treatment session after that Houston game and then at practice in between games,” Davis said. “It felt good to get the whole team back out there and get our rhythm and our chemistry again.”
“I felt pretty good. A lot better than I did last time I suited up. I put in a lot of work off the floor just getting my ankle right, getting my foot right, but I felt pretty good going into the game,” James added, responding to the same question.
James said that in his most recent prior game — a loss to the Toronto Raptors — his ankle and leg stiffened up at halftime, but he had no such issues against the Pacers on Sunday.
“Tonight it was a complete 180 for me,” James said. “It allowed me to play the game I wanted to play, and I think every game I’ll get better and better, but it was a good first test for me.”
Asked to elaborate on what led to that 180-degree turn, James said that the extra six games he sat out after that defeat helped.
“I think it’s just time. Being in that Toronto game just gave me a sense of where I was physically as far as my ankle,” James said. “I needed that test to see where I was then, and to know where I needed to go, and today was another opportunity to see where I’m at and to see how far I can go.
“I still got some room for improvement as far as my ankle, my mobility and my strength, but I’m 10 times better than I was in that Toronto game,” James continued. “I think I’ll be 10 times better in the future. The more games we have, the more opportunities I get to strengthen it, and strengthen everything around it and continue to get better.”
James credited the Lakers’ training staff for helping him get to this point.
“I’ve got a great team around me. My trainer is on me every single day and I’m on myself about doing what I can do to be available for this team and control what I can control. That’s all I can worry about,” James said.
Both James and Davis said that they didn’t suffer any setbacks against the Pacers, and neither were on a minutes restriction, but both they and head coach Frank Vogel said the training staff would decide if James and Davis would be able to play in the team’s final game of the season against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday. However, whether they’re good go for that one or not, both making it through a game together unscathed — and looking relatively spry and on the same page while doing it — is great news for a Lakers team that hasn’t had much time to develop chemistry.
But as long as their two stars are ready to play, maybe none of that will matter. James and Davis’ talents can paper over a lot of issues, and the two appear as prepared as they can be for their greatest test as a duo yet.